There are no words to describe this book. I mean I’m going to try of course, but really there is no way I can explain the raw emotions that this book makes you feel. All you need to do is read it to understand. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book as it such a divergence from the previous Clare Mackintosh books I have loved and read, but this book exceeded all of my expectations and more. Mackintosh is hands down one of the most talented writers I’ve come across to make me feel SO much throughout this book, and write so beautifully on such a difficult topic.
This book follows the story of Pip, Max and their little boy Dylan. Dylan is only three years old but he has terminal caner. The first half of this book is the ‘before’, where we see Pip and Max struggling with their son’s illness but remaining optimistic. Pip has taken time off her job and spends every day in the hospital by Dylan’s side, Max isn’t so lucky as he can’t get time off from his high-flying job where he has to spend days on end travelling across to America for business meetings. You can tell from the start that Mackintosh has created believable characters who are such caring parents and that they would do anything for their son.
Mackintosh uses flashbacks and multiple narratives beautifully in this novel, making the reader aware of the history between Max and Pip, and the wonderful times they had with Dylan before he got sick. The multiple narratives allow you to see the traumatic situation from different perspectives and how parents react differently to situations. Mackintosh cleverly includes the narrative of Dylan’s doctor as well, which emphasises the hardship that doctors suffer as well, and how much care and compassion they have for their patients. These techniques are essential in connecting with the characters, and boy did I become connected to these characters.
The story centres around what happens when Pip and Max are told the best course of action for their child is to stop providing treatment and let him go. This is when things start to break down as Max and Pip can’t decide on what should happen. Pip understands that if they keep treating Dylan, and take him to America for experimental procedures, that Dylan will live his life with severe disabilities and will need round-the-clock care. Pip doesn’t want this life for her son. But Max wants to give Dylan the treatment, he doesn’t want to ‘give up’ on his child. What I found most amazing about this book was how convincingly Mackintosh writes both sides of the argument. I found it so hard throughout to make up my mind as to what I thought, and what I would do in that situation.
The second half of the book is the ‘after’ and what happens after Pip and Max have been to court who decided what would happen to Dylan. Each chapter of the second half shows you a different timeline, one where Dylan’s treatment is discontinued, one where he travels with Max to America for treatment. Each of the storylines is heart-breaking, emotional and raw. By not giving a clear answer on which of these is actually the outcome of the trial is clever on Mackintosh’s part, as it allowed her to show both outcomes, and make the reader understand that when making that decision yourself you would never be able to know what ‘could have been’ or what might have happened.
This book had me crying throughout, but nothing made me cry more than when I finished the book and read the ‘Author’s Note’ at the end. Trust me if you’re reading this book, or even just thinking about reading it, make sure you read the note from Clare at the end.
This book comes out on the 25th June and I cannot urge you more strongly to go out and BUY IT as soon as it comes out! This book is really something special.
My rating: 9.5/10 !!!
**always out of 10 because 5 is too restricting!